Friday, November 19, 2010

Authors of Program tell WHY

Testimony One by program co-author Andrae Bridges, Imprisoned at age 16, now 33.

Why I Think This Program (Redemptive Re-Entry) Is Needed
I think the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or something similar is needed because juvenile offenders who were waived into adult court, convicted of violent crimes, given lengthy sentences and have served more than thirteen (13) years deserve a second chance at the life they never knew. Or had for that matter. I have found that juveniles who don't get waived into adult court ultimately receive a second chance at life. Even after having been convicted of crimes just as violent as those who get waived. It is clearly understood that we're dealing with two different jurisdictions here; juvenile and adult. However, we're dealing with the same kind of individuals; JUVENILES.

"The Court explained that juveniles were less culpable because inexperience, less education, and less intelligence make [a juvenile] less able to evaluate the consequences of his or her conduct while at the same time he or she is much more apt to be motivated by mere emotion or peer pressure than as an adult. The reasons why juveniles are not trusted with privileges and responsibilities of an adult also explain why their irresponsible conduct is not as morally reprehensible as that of an adult." (2007 Wis. L. Rev. 729)

With that being said know that I attempt to make no excuses for my actions. And I'd be the first to admit that said actions were deserving of punishment yet I can't help questioning the degree to which such was disseminated. In 1992 (when I was convicted), had I not been waived as an adult I would have most likely been released around the age of twenty-five (25) or so, depending on certain factors. I most certainly wouldn't still be in the system, as I am now. And that's due solely to the fact that I was waived as adult and thereby sentenced as such. But my point is this: with the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or something similar, prisoners such as myself will be given a shot at freedom just like those who remained in the juvenile system.' Although having served more prison time. Hence, under the juvenile system I probably would have served no more than ten (10) years. Whereas I have nearly double that (17) in the adult system.

In closing, I think the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or something similar is needed because it would apply to a unique group of individuals who have essentially been forgotten. In addition to the ten reasons why I feel and/or think I should be released from prison. But as I was saying, over the years there have been tons of research done on the brain development of juveniles as well as juvenile justice reform. But all of those efforts seem geared toward the juveniles that are entering the system today. Don't get me wrong, I believe that's wonderful and I encourage more efforts in that regard but I'd also like to see something put in effect that would allow prisoners such as myself to receive a special parole grant or at least be given the opportunity to work towards obtaining one or something as such.
Andrae L. Bridges #248420

Testimeny Two by program co- author Roy Rogers
R. Rogers
Why I Think This Program (Redemptive Re-Entry) Is Needed
I believe a program like the Redemptive Re-Entry program is needed because it acknowledges the redemptive value in teens who committed horrible crimes. This program affirms the possibility of positive change in the lives of these offenders and their ability to be productive members in society. This program is needed because it acknowledges that teens who committed serious offenses and sentenced as adults to lengthy prison terms are not throw aways. I believe this program is needed in the Wisconsin Prison System because in order for restorative justice to be complete it requires the restoration also of this class of inmates.

The Redemptive Re-Entry Program is needed because it is in the spirit of the Second Chance Act and the current re-entry initiatives because those eligible for the redemptive re-entry program will be offenders who have taken active responsibility for their actions. They've done this by doing their part to repair harm and restore relationships thru their program involvement and community service.

A program like this is needed because the State of Wisconsin is in a financial bind with a lot of money spent on corrections. The cost of incarceration is steady rising as more offenders are entering the system while current offenders are not exiting fast enough. There are a class of inmates who have fulfilled their rehabilitative goals by receiving vocational training and completing essential programming reducing their risk of re-offending, who came to prison between the ages of 13 and 17 who have been incarcerated 13 years or more who would pose no risk to the community if released and would be valuable contributors and assets to society.

In conclusion, I believe a program like this is needed because adult prisoners who came to prison between the ages of 13-17 should be viewed and treated differently from offenders who came to prison as adults. The reason being is that the personalities, characters and ability to fully comprehend long term consequences and effects of negative behavior were still in development stage in 13-17 year olds in comparison to their adult counterparts. A program like this is needed to recognize and reward the rehabilitative efforts of this class of inmates.

In The Interest of Restorative Justice,
Roy Rogers

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